- The new-look Lakers dropped their first game with Isaiah Thomas.
- Can LA rebound and continue its playoff push when they face the slumping Timberwolves on Thursday?
- Is Minnesota bound to regress down the stretch, given how much Tom Thibodeau plays his stars?
In the final game before the NBA All-Star break, the Minnesota Timberwolves (35-35, 23-7 home) host the Los Angeles Lakers (23-32, 9-18 away) at the Target Center in Minneapolis (9:00 PM ET).
Great home record aside, the Wolves are reeling of late, having lost three of four. In their last game against Houston, the visiting Rockets turned a four-point lead after three quarters into an 18-point win. A couple of recurring themes were on display for Minnesota: apart from Jamal Crawford (11 points), the Wolves’ bench was non-existent, chipping in just 14 total points. As well, All-Star forward Jimmy Butler had a quiet night (15 points on 5-of-13 shooting), continuing his volatile season. After back to back 35-plus explosions, he’s averaged just 16.5 over his last two games. These lulls lead critics to question Butler’s insane minutes (37.2 MPG, first in the NBA).
Isaiah Thomas fared well in his [Lakers] debut, dropping 22 off the bench [against Dallas].
Meanwhile, despite a disappointing loss to the Mavericks, the Lakers are still enjoying their best stretch in ages. They’re a solid 12-5 in their last 17 and on the fringe of the playoff race. In case you were sequestered in jury duty last week, you know the Lakers were involved in a significant trade with the Cavaliers at the deadline. The setback in Dallas came with a silver lining, as newcomer Isaiah Thomas fared well in his debut, dropping 22 off the bench. Since he can’t defend, isn’t 100% healthy, and is in a contract year, he better keep it up.
The Lakers will still be without Lonzo Ball tomorrow, but the emergence of Brandon Ingram and the steady play of Kyle Kuzma is encouraging for fans, almost as encouraging as all the money LA now has to spend in the offseason after parting ways with Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
|53.1||Points In The Paint||48.2|
Notable Injuries and Absences
|Lonzo Ball (sore left knee): OUT||No significant injuries or absences|
|Channing Frye (coach’s decision): DAY-TO-DAY|
|Los Angeles is 9-18 SU away||Minnesota is 23-7 SU at home|
|Los Angeles is 7-3 SU in its last ten games||Minnesota is 4-6 SU in its last ten games|
|Los Angeles is 17-28 SU as an underdog||Minnesota is 28-12 SU as a favorite|
|Los Angeles is 11-22 in conference games||Minnesota is 27-9 in conference games|
|Los Angeles is 11-20 SU after a loss||Minnesota is 17-7 SU after a loss|
|Los Angeles is 29-26 ATS this season (52.7-percent)||Minnesota is 28-30-2 ATS this season (48.3-percent)|
|Los Angeles is 13-14 ATS away||Minnesota is 15-14-1 ATS at home|
Prediction: Timberwolves (115-108)
This Lakers team likes to get up and down, while the Wolves are reluctantly getting there. That should make for a high-scoring affair. The Wolves are on the verge of being a legit threat to both the Warriors and Rockets. If they are, then games like this are where they feast.
Butler will lead the way (while also finding a way to slow down Ingram), while Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins follow in tow – particularly Towns, who will relish the chance to go at fellow Kentucky product Julius Randle. Expect IT to make another significant contribution, but it won’t be enough. Wolves pull away in the fourth and win comfortably.
Straight-Up Picks (Feb. 15)
There’s only one other game on tap Thursday night, but it’s a beauty interconference affair between the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks, two teams trying to establish themselves as legitimate contenders in their respective conferences.
|Match Up||SU Pick|
|Nuggets vs Bucks||Bucks|
The moneylines, point spreads, and over/unders for these games will be available soon. You can place a wager by visiting one of these sportsbooks.
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